Dorset – the development of the DISC

Gurpreet Sarai,
Engagement Manager,
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing

Back in 2015, the Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing met with Dorset’s Better Together Programme Board to help consider the steps needed to implement their Dorset Information Sharing Charter (DISC) – a charter signed up to by health leaders across the County, setting out Dorset’s ambitions to share information with a range of partners from the health, social care, education and voluntary sectors.

The charter sets out a vision for information sharing and aims to be a catalyst for individuals and organisations to consider, review, and improve health and social care services for people in Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset.

During a sunny afternoon in March, partners came together to uncover a range of ideas and perceptions about what they expected the charter to deliver. People said things like;  ‘people will only have to tell their story once and can expect a better service’, ‘local people will have clear guidance about how their information will be shared’, and ‘professionals will have access to information when they need it, to support better outcomes for local people’.

This all sounds great in principle but often, organisations can overlook the practical steps required to implement such an ambitious framework, putting it down to a simple policy change or function for information governance or communications teams to deliver. This underestimates the need for:

  • wider awareness about the benefits and limitations of the charter
  • clear direction – clarity around roles, the purpose and what it means for staff and guidance or training about the framework for sharing information, using clear examples of both good and bad practice
  • permission to lead – support from senior and middle managers so staff are empowered to make decisions about sharing information without fear of repercussions
  • access to relevant systems and processes to enable effective information sharing to happen.

The workshop in Dorset was interesting and demonstrated the need to further explore the approach to implementation, paying particular attention to things like:

  • organisational tolerance to risk
  • understanding the partnership framework
  • boundaries and opportunities for sharing
  • the impact of behaviour change
  • how to engage hard to reach groups
  • understanding the public perception to information sharing in Dorset
  • developing a local culture for information sharing on that basis.

In Dorset, many staff and agencies will be working together, sharing information for the first time – mainly because it wasn’t part of their organisational framework previously. The DISC is a prime opportunity and a catalyst to not only change this culture but to also strengthen relationships so that teams can collectively manage the risks that previously bound them not to share.

Although the concept of working together is nothing new for Dorset, it is the first time that resources, processes, protocols and decision making will be truly formalised in such a way that allows staff to actively share information.

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